GONZALES – The City Council Tuesday night, Oct. 1, approved a $44,000 contract with Mid-Continent Restoration Co., Inc., for the first cleaning of the exterior of the Gonzales Memorial Museum since it was built in the 1930s. The action still needs approval of the Texas Historical Commission.
JoAnn Leifeste spoke before the action at the regular City Council meeting, reading the names of those 18 men who participated in the Battle of Gonzales, the first skirmish in the war of independence from Mexico.
She listed the 18 Gonzales men to first meet advancing Mexican troops who had come to return the small cannon Mexico had first loaned the town on Oct. 2, 1835, many of whom later died in the Alamo. She also named the 32 Texas Rangers who went to the Alamo to fight off Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his troops the next March. All of them were killed.
The six-pound cannon fired the first shot of the revolution, creating the “Come and Take It” theme being celebrated this weekend in Gonzales.
Leifeste urged the council to honor the 50 men in the two incidents and others who contributed to the city.
“For 76 years, it’s never been cleaned,” she said. “The city has spent $100,000 to get people to come to Gonzales. Don’t let them see a dirty museum.
“You’ve got the money and Mid-Continent is just down the street,” she said. “You may never get this opportunity again.”
She urged the council not to let the 50 heroes down, urging it to commit to cleaning every 10 years.
Museum Director Marlaina Habman told the Inquirer the cleaning will not bring the exterior to the original cream color but will come much closer. Much of the surface is stained from rain and other elements over the many years.
Leifeste said she gives God credit for pulling all of the things together that led to the museum being cleaned when it hasn’t been cleaned since it was dedicated in 1937. Councilman Tommy Schurig “proudly” moved approval of the contract to Mid-Continent, and council agreed it should be cleaned every six or seven years, not waiting 10 years for the next one. The motion carried unanimously.
City Manager Allen Barnes noted there is $25,000 in the museum budget and $35,000 in the tourism budget. He said the council likes to have multiple quotes but it was low bidder on a job at the Methodist church and the crews are in town and won’t have to charge mobilization costs.
Barnes said he thought earlier it would take $200,000 to $300,000 to do the work.
“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” he said. Barnes said some flat concrete work also is needed at the museum and that should be accomplished before the cleaning. The budget shows a “huge” revenue increase in Hotel Occupancy Tax of some $160,000 over what was expected and, with the flat work, $66,000 to 68,000 for both would be “money well spent on the museum.”
He said architect Tim Gescheidle, who was present at a meeting where the issue was discussed, commented he saw MC workers “brushing” an item and they were doing it correctly. There is a right way and a wrong way to clean historical artifacts, he said.
Barnes said they clearly know what they are doing.
Leifeste also urged approval of a contract to seek Texas Department of Agriculture funding for downtown street and sidewalk repair, noting that some sidewalks in the area are not compliant with the Americas for Disabilities Act for wheelchair access.
The resolution declares that “improvements of the blighted conditions found to exist within the Main Street Target Area” comply with the national program objectives of the Texas Capital Fund Main Street Program.
The specific work to be funded in this case is drainage, curb and gutter, sidewalk and ADA accessibility at St. Joseph and St. Francis Streets.
In a related action, council agreed to spend up to $650,000 from the Capital Improvements fund for resurfacing of St. Vincent, St. Paul, St. Andrew and Church Streets.
Lone Star Paving got a $427,235 contract for overlays on St. Vincent and Church Streets and H&C Construction got a $197,765 contract for St. Paul and St. Andrew. There is an additional $25,000 in that budget for engineering services.